07/05/2012 2:28PM

Woodbine: Casse shooting for third straight Ontario Damsel

Michael Burns
Dene Court holds on to win the Alywow Stakes in her last start.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Mark Casse seeks his third straight win in the $150,000 Ontario Damsel Saturday at Woodbine. Casse saddles Dene Court, who should be favored in the one-mile turf route for Ontario-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Dene Court showed ample promise early last summer, when she graduated at first asking before running second to Judy the Beauty in the Shady Well Stakes. She earned a Beyer Figure in the high 70s on each occasion.

“We thought she was a real nice filly at 2,” said Casse, who won the Damsel with Bingo in 2011 and with Barracks Road in 2010.

Dene Court returned from an extended layoff April 29 in the seven-furlong Fury Stakes, in which she wound up second to her favored stablemate Northern Passion, a multiple stakes winner.

“I thought she ran a great race,” Casse said. “She got stopped a little at about the five-sixteenths pole. She got held up for a minute, and then came running. She held her own with Northern Passion down the lane.”

Dene Court, by noted turf sire City Zip, led all the way in her first try on grass in the 6 1/2-furlong Alywow Stakes on June 3. Runner-up Blue Heart subsequently took the Bison City Stakes.

“Her sire is just unbelievable on the grass,” Casse said. “He just had two more stakes winners on the grass.”

Part the Seas might be better suited to a mile than Dene Court. She is trained by Malcolm Pierce, who captured the 2009 Damsel with Mullins Beach.

Part the Seas was a belated fourth when she debuted in a turf sprint at the Fair Grounds in January. She won her maiden on the Polytrack here in April, and then finished fifth before winning her last start in a seven-furlong allowance on the turf.

Pierce said he always believed that Part the Seas, a daughter of good turf sire Stormy Atlantic, would ultimately find her niche on the grass.

“I think her last race was probably the best race that she’s run,” Pierce said. “In her first race going five and a half, she got away slowly and actually finished fine. She just had a fitness edge when she came back here and won on the Poly. We always thought her home would be on the turf.”

Gravelly Bay was third behind Part the Seas when she switched to the grass June 8. She is a half-sister to turf stakes winners Smokey Fire and Utterly Cool.

Estella rallied stoutly to beat Ontario-sired allowance stock when she ran on the grass June  10.

Osler Bluff was supplemented at a cost of $3,000.